Raising a family is a complex, juggling act. Parents strive to equip their children with the skills needed for the real world without overloading or misleading them. Ideally, the parent’s advice and direction instill values that will enable the child to make informed decisions.

family eating dinner togetherMom and dads who share the same religious beliefs, typically want to raise their child within that system. In most situations, the parents would have no problems deciding what to tell their children.

The task becomes much more tedious for parents who disagree. Children are constantly looking for answers and absorb information like a sponge. When parents disagree on something, their children will almost certainly take note of it and seek out a resolution for themselves. These moments can have a dramatic impact on the child’s personality, depending on the situation and age of the child.

We all want the best for our children, so it’s important to know how to handle the tough questions that will inevitably come as your child becomes more aware of the world. More importantly, parents should respond consistently and respect the wishes of the other parent as well.

Provide the Information

dad reading the bibleChildren are much better at understanding complex information than most people give them credit. One interesting study tested 2, 3, and 4-year-old children at finding causal relationships by giving them objects that interacted with a machine. If the child placed the objects correctly, the machine would play music and flash lights. The children were then asked questions about the objects and their relationships. The study’s findings highlight something we already knew – children are incredibly good at figuring things out.

Obviously, we need to be careful with the information we present our children, but most of us err on the cautionary side far too often. The most respectful thing to do is give your children as much information as you can.

Preparing beforehand will give you the chance to make conscious decisions. Both mom and dad should have a game plan for the uncomfortable situations that will inevitably come. Treating them like a fellow human, and giving them honest answers, may just save you some embarrassment in the future.

Teaching Tolerance

Exposing your child to alternate opinions is also another important thing to keep in mind. When your kids go to school, they will undoubtedly be introduced to all kinds of ideas you may or may not want them to know about. While the exposure may make your job easier, you won’t be able to control how it is presented to them.

Our world is filled with tremendous diversity. Being respectful and tolerant of other opinions is absolutely essential for navigating a career. The more ideas you expose your child to, the more likely they will be respectful of other opinions. And again, if you don’t tell them, someone else will.

Community

church full of peoplePlenty of families struggle with the decision of whether or not to raise their kids in a church. Of course, this is a very intimate decision that requires input from both parents, but attending church can be beneficial for all families. Church provides a sense of community and a great social structure for children.

Deanna Mascle from Editorial Today writes:

“Belonging to a church is more than simply attending services on Sundays. It is about becoming a member of that community, and that is a very important factor in my decision for my child. His friends are children he has known his entire life, and his teachers and caregivers are adults and teenagers we have known for years. We have history and connections that bring us together for fun and fellowship as well as to share troubles and celebrate joys.”  

At the very least, taking your child to church will expose them to the ideas held by a large number of people in our culture. A church can also help a young child develop friendships, and they may find security in the community they belong to. The moral structure will also give them a compass for decision making at an early age.

Parents can always coach their children with their own opinions, but parents should also be aware of their own weaknesses. By exposing your child to alternate opinions, you are not only instilling tolerance but teaching them to think critically.

Rebellion

In the age of information, it is impossible to prevent your kids from hearing alternate opinions. When a child learns of something contrary to what their parents have taught them, the response is often rebellious. A lie from a parent is nothing short of betrayal to a child. It can be very beneficial to prepare your child in advance.

Lying is Bad, Especially for Parents

santaOne of the defining moments of my childhood was when I found out the truth about Santa Clause. It started when one of my teeth came out while brushing my teeth. I was very excited about the opportunity to get some money in exchange for it, so I rushed into the living room and showed it to my parents. “I lost a tooth! I’m going to put it under my pillow tonight for the tooth fairy,” I said with glee. They looked at one another, then looked at me, and with a serious tone and slight smile, they informed the tooth fairy was not real. “So where does the money come from?” I asked.

“We put the money under your pillow while you’re sleeping,” they said.

My brain raced back and forth for a minute while considering their dishonesty.

“Oh!” I said, “Does that mean Santa and Jesus aren’t real either?”

Lying to your children can have unintended consequences. There really isn’t a reason to lie to your kids. It’s okay to tell them you don’t know something.

Summing It up

dad and son on beachRegardless of how you decide to raise your child, it’s important to have a plan in place. Discuss the subject with your partner so you can both provide a consistent message. Providing your child with critical thinking skills and a variety of information is the only way to guide them through this very difficult and confusing reality.

Regardless of how you decide to raise your child, it’s important to have a plan in place. Discuss the subject with your partner so you can both provide a consistent message. Providing your child with critical thinking skills and a variety of information is the only way to guide them through this very difficult and confusing reality.

Fit Father for Life

The Fit Father team is here to help in any way we can. Our community is a brotherhood that assists one another in achieving their goals on a daily basis. Sure, our focus is health and fitness, but mental wellness and happy families are a part of the whole picture. Our programs have helped thousands of men lose excess fat, gain muscle, and grow their confidence. We would like to invite you to join the FF4L plan, which gives you access to our entire program library at an exceptionally low price. Click the banner below to begin.

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stuart-headshotStuart Carter
Head Training Staff, The Fit Father Project

Brotherhood Nickname: “The Fit Brit”
Bragging Rights: 16 Years in the fitness industry, Author of ‘The Easy Fitness Guide', Father of 4 boys and Husband to a Venezuelan beauty.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on faith and fatherhood.